By Jason RidlerRating: 4 out of 5 stars
Jason S. Ridler has a cool scenario going for himself. I would call him the best, although probably the only, writer in the vampire wrestler sub-genre. This novel is in the same arena (no pun intended), Yet A Triumph for Sakura builds on that idea and ends up creating an alternate reality where ancient and corrupt vampire lords pretty much run society with human and turned vampires being low in the hierarchy. For some strange reason, vampires love wrestling. I know. Just go with it.
The novel has a YA feel which is mainly due to the young protagonist Sakura. Personally I think there is too much violence and intensity to call it YA but, then again, I think the same thing about Grand Theft Auto. As far as influences, Ridler's novel has as much to do with the classic men pulp fiction as it does horror novels yet beyond the gritty descriptions and somewhat gory action scenes there is some class peeping out of the dirty gyms and the back alleys. I think I hear a little F.X. Toole meets Anne Rice action going on. The characters may seem a bit stereo-typed. Ned Bangs is a washed up trainer and Sakura is the spunky and hard-to-control kid from the slums. Yet the author manages to break through the stereo-types and develops some flesh-and-blood protagonists. Other characters are right out of a boxing film. I couldn't help visualizing Burgess Meredith as the wise and experienced Arthur. And the villains are just plain evil. But it all works and the novel ends up with a strong endorsement of the human spirit.
Like I said, Ridler has a good thing going. An original alt-universe with the best parts of familiar genres used to create his own story. I suspect he still has a few more tales to tell from this universe and I will be looking forward to reading them.
Method acquired: Review copy from author